How to become a real estate agent

CENTURY 21 Core Partners

How to become a Real Estate Agent

If you’re considering becoming a real estate agent or real estate broker, you could be embarking on a satisfying and fulfilling career with a lot of great perks involved. Flexible schedules, the potential for great income and the ability to help people find their dream property are all great reasons to enter this field.

It’s important to keep in mind that this job requires a state license. Each state has different rules and requirements. The better you understand the specific licensing requirements in your state, the sooner you can start practicing and making money.

1. Is Real Estate Right for You?

Before embarking on the process of becoming a real estate agent, you should take some time to consider whether this is something you want to do for a living before you devote your time and money. Consider reaching out to local real estate agents and brokers to find out what it’s like being a real estate professional. What makes someone a good real estate agent and what will it take to be successful? How long does it take to become a real estate agent, and how much of an investment will it require?

If you work well with people and have a strong desire to succeed, you should be in a good position to thrive as a real estate agent.

2. Understand the Basic Requirements

In all states, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old and be a U.S. resident. However, you don’t have to be a Pennsylvania resident to practice in Pennsylvania. Obtaining a state license basically requires a prelicense education in real estate as well as a license examination. The number of hours required for prelicense education varies by state.

Basic Requirements to Become a Realtor

A Pennsylvania license for a real estate salesperson requires two 30-hour real estate courses: real estate fundamentals and real estate practice. You must also pass the real estate salesperson examination through PSI Exams Online.

Skills You’ll Need

It’s important to note, before becoming a real estate agent, that there are certain skills that must be nurtured and fine tuned before taking the leap into your real estate career.

It’s a common misconception that real estate agents must be great with people or must have a professional sales background. In reality, anyone can make it as a real estate agent if they study the material and work on the skills that can positively impact their real estate career.

We’ve taken the time to break down these core skills below:


Marketing is one of the most essential skills that every real estate agent must know. An agent’s ability to effectively market themselves will determine how many leads they generate, how many homes they sell, and, ultimately, how much money they make.

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To break it down, real estate agents make money off commission. This creates a scenario where other agents are competition, not friends or colleagues. Marketing is about telling a story, earning trust, and showcasing your skills. Why should strangers choose you out of hundreds of other agents to find their dream home? What sets you apart from the other agents in your region? How will you show it?

Effective real estate marketing includes creating a website, investing in signage and ad space, promoting yourself through various social channels, and much more. Being able to put your name out there for homeowners and home buyers to find on their own an invaluable skill for anyone thinking about becoming a real estate agent.


While you don’t need to have a sales background before you become a real estate agent, it’s important to acknowledge that basic sales skills are extremely important in this industry.

Sales is about so much more than just getting the best offer for a home for clients. It includes going through the entire negotiation process, getting clients on board with your strategy, picking up new business, finding ways to cut corners and limit expenses. As a real estate agent, you’re not just selling homes, you’re selling your services. Why should people invest in you over someone else?

Customer Service

At the end of the day, real estate agents don’t sell a physical product. They don’t sell food, t-shirts, or computers. In actuality, they don’t even sell homes. What they do offer is their services, their knowledge of real estate contracts, pricing, negotiation, law, regulations, contracting, and more.

In most cases, the client will rely on you completely to handle the finite details of their property transaction. Customer service entails that you keep them in the loop, explain the process clearly, and keep in constant contact during and after the sale.

Not only will this customer service skill improve the relationship between you and your clients throughout the process, but will also significantly help drive business through referrals from past clients.

The Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Real Estate Agent

The Exam

Knowing the skills you need to become a successful real estate agent won’t get you far unless you pass your real estate license exam. Many wonder how hard the test is, but real estate agents agree that if you put the time in to studying, you won’t have much trouble passing the test.

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At the same time, it’s incredibly important to take the test seriously, or run the risk of spending more money to retake the test.

Prelicense Requirements

Each state has different real estate prelicense requirements put in place that determine the minimum number of hours of course work individuals must complete before taking the exam and getting their license. One common requirement to get your real estate license that you will see across almost all states is that you must be at least 18 years old.

As part of their prelicense requirements, many states have imposed a minimum amount of training hours an individual must complete before becoming a real estate agent. These hours will mostly be spent taking courses that cover everything from basic real estate information, to high level details about complicated topics. This number can vary dramatically from one state to the next, so it is important to research your state’s specific requirements before moving forward.  Click here to view the prelicense requirements of your specific state.

What to Expect from Your Real Estate Exam

The real estate license exam is unlike many exams you may have taken in the past. For starters, the majority of states only offer in-person testing at a remote facility. These facilities are often spread out across various cities within the state, so finding one close by should not be an issue. With that said, as technology continues to advance, online test taking is becoming more logistically viable.

When it comes to exam day, it’s important to show up 30 minutes prior to the time the exam is scheduled for. Make sure to bring two forms of identification; one government I.D card (think driver’s license or passport) and one document with your name and signature (think credit card).

Here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Testing facility will more than likely have a strict ‘no cell phone’ policy
  • Exam will be timed, typically around 2 hours but it depends on your specific state’s laws
  • Exam will consist of roughly 120 multiple choice questions
  • Exam will consist of both national and state-specific questions

Finding a Brokerage

If all goes according to plan, you’ll pass your real estate exam with flying colors and will be one step closer to becoming a real estate agent. Before you can sell homes, however, you must first find a brokerage that can show you the ropes and give you the tools for success. As much as you want to wing it on your own, it is a requirement by law for new real estate agents to work for a brokerage.

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There are hundreds of brokerages out there that would be more than happy to have you onboard. Unlike a typical job interview, in real estate, the power is in the hands of the job seeker, meaning that brokers will be trying to sell themselves to you. Some of the most popular, nationally recognized, brokerages in the United States are Keller Williams, RE/MAX, Century 21, Sotheby’s, and Caldwell Banker. In addition, there will also be various regionally brokerages in your city that you can also consider.

What to Look For

The role of a brokerage has changed significantly over the past decade, as emphasized in a recent Forbes article. According to Tamir Poleg, CEO and co-founder of Real, “In the past, the brokerage provided an office and desk, a secretary to prepare documents, a fax machine to send them and walk-in clients to service.” But this is not the case anymore. With technology advancements, agents have more freedom, and brokerages are being more liberal regarding where their agents to perform tasks, conduct meetings, and drive business.

With that said, it’s important to remember that you’re still just starting out. You will still want to find a brokerage that is known for its agent retention and satisfaction rates. Just because a brokerage is recognized around the country, does not mean it is the right one for you to partner with.

Shop around, ask questions, do your research, seek advice, and be thorough in your search for a brokerage.

Questions to Ask

When you meet with various brokerages on your journey to finally becoming a real estate agent, it’s important to be prepared with questions that will uncover whether or not the brokerage can offer you the tools you need to be successful. These questions will depend on you and your preferences, but here are some basic one’s to get you started, taken from Inman:

  • What forms of training and continuing education do you provide?
  • What structure of business entity formation is typical?
  • What costs will I incur?
  • What marketing materials are available?
  • Do you have a company policy manual?
  • What are the commission splits?
  • Do you provide an independent contractor agreement?

While there are many more things you’d like to know about a brokerage before signing on, these questions will at least put you on the right path to finding the firm that will work best for your individual needs.

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